When you were a child, chances are that when you went to the beach, you felt the desire for being buried in sand, leaving only your head above the ground to enjoy the sunshine and watch people splash merrily in the water. Somehow, at some point, that innocuous playful urge transformed into a paralyzing fear of being buried alive. On Deliverance from the Godless Void, the hooded pallbearers of Finland’s Desolate Shrine provide a soundtrack for your premature burial and eventual asphyxiation with a monstrous wall of noise that will drown your futile screams and the tortured sound of your nails scratching hopelessly on the interior of the coffin.
Despite being Desolate Shrine’s fourth album in six years, the band silences anyone foolish enough to doubt its prowess and virility by unleashing a furious hailstorm of firebolts from the depths of the netherworld with the gargantuan opener “The Primordial One.” Alternating between manic stretches of possessed blast sections and a slower, pummeling meatgrinder mode, the song serves as a prime example of Desolate Shrine’s monumental combination of death, black and doom, where there is no escape from the omnipresent malevolence and clouds of lead that shower the listener with merciless abandon. Moreover, the ominous atmosphere is less about impending doom and giving you a fair chance of fleeing its arrival; the nightmarish steamroller has already burst through the gates and crushed your feet and kneecaps, making escape impossible.
Those familiar with the band’s previous releases will soon notice the band perfecting their winning formula by adding new layers of texture and dynamics that enrich the putrid atmosphere of threatening malevolence. These refinements help ensure that the 57-minute album, recommended for an uninterrupted listening session, remains captivating from its opening blast beats until the final fading notes. A more inexperienced band peddling such a humongous sound would have easily fallen victim to deafening monotony, but Desolate Shrine keeps on expanding its vision and approach, whether by introducing a monstrous boogie on “The Waters of Man” or on “Demonic Evocation Prayer” by delivering salvos of glassy, hollow-point tremolos that strafe above relentless blasting before the song descends into a gaping maw surrounded by a lone guitar and sparse piano notes, until again switching gears into a tar-infused death march. “The Silent Star” kicks out the sinister jams with an infectious demon ogre stomp and trudges forth on a path of steady (d)evolution and oppressive groove, buttressed with additional layers of atmospheric synth sweeps until the ritual procession comes full circle and delivers the date between your teeth and the curb . Easy expectations are defied on “Unmask the Face of False,” where after nearly six minutes of funeral doom-paced annihilation, tension suddenly builds up and a launch into a barrage of cathartic blasts seems imminent, before pulling the rug and launching to a bleak dirge.
The impact of the album is elevated by a standout production which provides foul air and pokes breathing holes into the suffocating sonic blanket, albeit not to the detriment to the suffocating, cavernous essence of the music. Despite its overwhelming physical mass, the sound remains rich and transparent also in terms of imaging, instrument separation and soundstage, which offers exhilarating opportunities for experimentation with different audio setups and headphones.
Deliverance from the Godless Void is an essential reminder of the danger of staring into the abyss; something nameless lurking in the unfathomable depths of the pit is always ready to grab you by the throat while you remain transfixed by its majestic enormity and drag your writhing mass of flesh deep into to the airless bowels of the inescapable netherworld.